Bredesen says buyout picture looks bleak

Bredesen says buyout picture looks bleak

Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2008 9:08 pm
By: AP

NASHVILLE (AP) — Gov. Phil Bredesen says he doesn’t expect enough state workers to accept a buyout package. Bredesen told The Associated Press on Tuesday that roughly 1,600 workers have accepted the state’s buyout offer. He said it’s unlikely enough applications will come in before the Aug. 5 deadline to reach the goal of eliminating 2,200 jobs, or 5 percent of the state work force. “(The pace) has picked up a little bit, but I’ll be astonished if it gets to what we need at this point,” Bredesen said. Only about 1,200 of the applications in hand are deemed “acceptable” because they are for jobs the administration thinks can be eliminated. The buyouts are aimed at saving $64 million in state spending. Bredesen said the administration may consider offering buyouts to more employees because “there are a lot of people who want buyouts who are not in the 12,000” who were sent buyout packages. The buyouts were part of cuts totaling $468 million in the budget that took effect July 1. Lower-than-expected revenues for the end of last fiscal year, as well as for the new one, spurred the governor to seek savings through buyouts. He said he doesn’t expect revenues to improve much because the economy isn’t improving. Bredesen has warned that if not enough people accept the buyout package, mandatory layoffs will follow. However, on Tuesday he sidestepped that possibility. He said the administration will regroup after the deadline and “decide where we go from there. There’s various possibilities.” The Health, Human Services and Transportation departments are the state agencies targeted for the most buyouts, with about 260 positions to be cut from each. The buyouts are expected to affect 33 agencies differently. Among the 79 cuts to be made in the Safety Department are 29 Tennessee Highway Patrol officers — one lieutenant colonel, five captains, 10 lieutenants and 13 sergeants. Published in The Messenger 7.30.08

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